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commute

Notes from April 1st

To miss or not to miss, that is the question

traffic commuteI’m moving tomorrow. My old place is about 30km from work. The new place is about 1km from work. This is AWESOME in so many ways… I will save on gas. I can bike to work. Heck, I can WALK to work! I’ll have an extra hour in the morning and an extra hour in the evening that I’d usually be driving in traffic. Last night on the way home from work, I realized that I was driving one of my last daily 30km commutes. Of course, I got stuck in traffic, and there were 2 major accidents – so this helped drive the point home. However, this morning on my blissful drive IN to work, I reflected on how I’d miss my morning radio show. I’ll also miss laughing at the insane things people do in their car – like picking their nose and eating it, swearing and cursing, swerving and cutting people off – only to find yourself back behind that person 4 minutes later. So while I will definitely miss the commute, I also WON’T miss it. Change is a wonderful thing sometimes 🙂

Pocket full of tylenol

handfulOpills headache pillsOver the past few weeks I’ve been having headaches. I think they were related to the fact that I hurt a muscle in my back, and it began traveling into my shoulders and then up to my neck – leaving me leaning slightly to one side with my head turned on an angle to straighten out my view. Needless to say, this brought on some angry headaches. Me being a busy bee – always buzzing around the flowers with something to do – often threw a tylenol or two into my pocket (sometimes and Ibuprofen) to take when I had a water or a tea. Most times, I forgot about them. The next day, I’d throw another couple into my pocket. When I switched pants, the pocket contents would be transferred completely. The tylenol were compounded daily. So today, when I reached in my pocket to get my chapstick, I found myself digging around in a pocket full of tylenol. I hauled them out and counted 14 tylenol, 5 Ibuprofen, and 3 Midol.

After applying my chapstick, I realized that I had created an interesting placebo effect! Instead of popping the pain killers into my mouth, I popped them into my pocket and rocketed through the pain. Somehow this might have tricked my mind into thinking I was feeling better. The placebo pocket effect. Perhaps we should all try this one – although you still have to spend money on the tylenol, and time on popping them into your pocket. Then they get covered with lint and dirt. OK, well maybe it’s not such a good plan, but I thought that my pocket placebo effect was quite interesting 🙂

One hundred and one

101st post!I just realized that this is me one hundred and first post! Perhaps this is cause for some kind of celebration. Then again, maybe not 😉 It does surprise me (as always) how quickly time passes. I began this blog about 8 months ago, with no real intention or expectation that it was going to last this long. Sure, there have been missed posts along the way (heck, I’ve even missed a WEEK here or there), but all in all this blog has been going strong, and kept me motivated to continue churning out photographs, drawings, and ramblings. Hooray! Now on to today’s ramblings…

Spring is sneaking up on us. A few weeks ago I noticed that despite the negative temperatures, the sun was remarkably hot. This is a direct result of the earth’s axis shifting and bringing our hemisphere a little closer to the sun with each orbit. It’s a very subtle change, but I think subconsciously we all notice it. Just as we all seem to notice our hemisphere’s drift away from the sun: even though the days are still warm, the sun just feels colder. Three cheers for the earth’s axis and the shift towards the sun! I’m looking forward to warmer weather!

Earth's rotation and the sun
Earth's rotation and the sun. From http://www.nationsonline.org/oneworld/earth.htm

morning commuteSomething that makes me laugh on my morning commute is those drivers who insist on cutting in and out of traffic, speeding along, assuming that they are making good time as they “race” toward their destination. I find it humerous in a few different ways. One, they just look silly dipping in and out of traffic like that. Often, they aren’t really getting any further in reality, but I think they feel like they are getting further in their mind. Two, it always makes me laugh when someone speeds by me, cuts off a few people to get ahead, and then five minutes later, I’m passing them because their lane of traffic has stopped. All that effort gone to waste 😉 It’s just funny! Three, I find it infinitely hilarious to see the frustrated faces of race car commuters that are not making headway. I laugh when they smash their steering wheel with their hands.  I chuckle when the raise their hands in frustration and scream silently. I giggle when they slam on their brakes, narrowly missing an accident. It makes my commute that much more fun every day.

A different commute

I took the train into the city a few days ago for a one-day workshop (for work). I loved being among the regular commuters, watching their behaviour. No one looks up. Most people sleep or read. There is one or two groups of people who know each other and chatter. Some people are texting or listening to their iPod. For the most part it is silent.

I managed to grab a copy of the Metro paper – mostly for the crossword and sudoku puzzle – but I’m interested to see the top news stories. I really should pay attention to the news more. And then I start thinking about getting a subscription to the paper.

Taking the train is really great. Someone else gets to drive you to your destination. No traffic – no rush – no stress.

As the train rolls from stop to stop, I look up occasionally from my paper to gaze out the window or around the train. The sun is up above the horizon and I could see the neighbourhoods and businesses waking up. People are out on the streets walking or cycling. Even though it is chilly outside, the sights outside my window seem to have a cozy feel.

I see grotty housing projects in neglected neighbourhoods that seem like home. I miss living in the city. I notice how much garbage there is everywhere – in parking lots, in backyards, in industrial lots. We are a dirty species – and it would take a lot of human-power to clean all of this up.

Before long, the train pulls into Union station and I sit in my seat, waiting as everyone else around me gets up to stand in the aisles so they can file slowly off the train. I am sitting comfortably, watching them. They are using their phones, folding their papers, fumbling for their metro-pass or change, all while balancing a coffee or pastry. For many of these people, the journey is not yet done. I miss being one of them.

Most of them still do not look up. They stay comfortably in their bubble of “no eye-contact.” The commuters shuffle along like well-trained cattle through a chute. They don’t need to look where they are going, because the path has been memorized from daily trips.

This makes me so glad I am me, and watching from where I am. Although I miss the city, and this experience – I don’t miss being a robotic, seemingly emotionless particle in this mass of people. Maybe they are all still half asleep?

They begin filing off the train, and when the aisles clear I finally get up to exit the train. I remember where to go – but I look up happily, enjoying how different today is from my normal working day. It’s nice to do something different.

Whatever you do, wear your seatbelt!

I’m beginning to get a better understanding of road rage.. I will admit that I have been one of those angry people cursing at other cars or saying “come on, move!” and on occasion, honking my horn. I have realized a few things:

  1. They can’t hear you
  2. They can probably see you, and you look ridiculous/annoying
  3. Your ridiculous/annoyingness distracts not only you, but them as well, making it more likely that one of you (or perhaps someone else who is laughing at you waving your arms like a gorilla) will get into an accident
  4. honking your horn does not make people move faster, in fact it usually makes them stop (for spite!)
Road Rage
Image taken from: http://www.toothpastefordinner.com

I have learned a few things over the last 6 months, some of them from a very cute little buddhist monk who makes an awful lot of sense. When you are driving, it’s difficult to remember that you do not own the road. I know, we all like to think that we have the right of way, or that the guy over there just took your spot. But simply put, we all share the road. Following that train of thought, it’s not your lane or your spot either that some other car is squishing into. We all seem to feel entitled to our spaces on the road. This type of thinking is skewed. We need to try and think of it from the other side; in terms of us, not them.

What does that mean? It means that we can greatly benefit from concentrating on our responsibility to drive safely. If someone races into the small spot in front of you, instead of fuming over the fact that he/she has just taken up the safe space you have created between you and the car in front of you, try just making sure that you are doing the right thing, and that once this driver has squeezed in, that you are still driving safely – give them some space so that you remain safe! After all, you are the important one 🙂

Road Rage
Image from: http://www.theage.com.au

Also, if you are screaming at someone in front of you and honking, likely they will simply react defensively: cursing and swearing back at you, regardless of who is right or wrong. The damage at this point is two-fold. Now yours and the other drivers’ concentration has been compromised – raising your likelihood of being in an accident. Not only that but the people around you will likely have decided (in their own minds) whether one or the other of you was in the right – and carry the animosity of your situation with them. This means that not only you and the other driver, but also other people may be in an angry state while driving, all as a result of one person cutting another off, or not letting them into a lane. It creates a domino effect of angriness that spreads – more people swear and honk, more people swerve and cut others off – because if that guy did, I am entitled, too! Right? 😉

You can also look at things from the other perspective when experiencing not-so-great drivers who are compromising your safety. If someone is signaling to get into your lane, make space for them. Sure, you might be angry because they have just shoved you back one car length, and now you’re going to be even later than before (by a whole 2 seconds!)… but on the flip side – they are only one car length ahead of you! So they really didn’t get much further ahead, and you are not really that much further behind…

It’s difficult to think in these terms, because everyone seems to think that they are entitled to their spot, their lane, and to cut other people off – but not the other way around. There is a serious double standard in most drivers’ eyes. If we shift our concentration from making sure we are getting what we are “entitled” to when driving to concentrating on making sure that everything we are doing is safe, I think that not only will there be less accidents, but eventually (in a utopia, I know) people will catch on and be more courteous and forgiving on the road. After all, everyone makes mistakes.

Maybe that guy in the Audi cut you off because his wife is in the passenger seat with a huge bleeding cut on her arm and she needs medical attention. Perhaps the lady in the van didn’t check her blind spot because she is not concentrating on the road because her baby just threw up and is choking in the back seat. Or perhaps the teenagers in the K-car are just driving recklessly and not paying attention. You never really know what’s going on in other cars. Sure – most likely they cut you off because they feel like you (or others around you) are going too slow and that getting one car length ahead will help them go faster. Either way, just let them go and make sure that you are being safe. And do it with a smile on your face!

Karma BuddhaWhy? Because KARMA will repay them. I have personally seen Karma in action while driving. I was in traffic, and a car was coming up fast from behind me, switching lanes erratically, swerving, and squashing himself into tight spots so that he could get ahead of all of us who were patiently driving through traffic. Then, all of a sudden he realized he had to go left, and crossed three lanes of traffic (nearly clipping someone’s car!) so that he could get into the left turning lane. Do you know what happened? This guy ended up hitting the curb in the left hand lane and likely did some real damage to one or both of the rims on that side of his car.  I’m sure that everyone who was patiently driving safely had a big smile on their faces.
I know I did!

So when someone cuts me off, or refuses to let me into their lane, 9 times out of 10 I have learned to just smile or laugh (at them!) and make sure I have left safe space around my car, and that I’m doing what I’m supposed to on the road. I try to only use my horn if I feel like I’m in danger and need to warn another driver to pay attention. I have found that not only does this make my commute happier (because laughing at idiots is WAY more fun than honking and swearing at them), but when I get to my destination, I feel a whole lot more fantastic. I’m far from perfect on the road, but I’m getting there. Not only that, but changing my practice has eliminated a whole lot of stress from my daily life!

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